tv Documentary RT July 21, 2014 4:29am-5:01am EDT
we don't understand. beautiful the miami. larson's land was once vast northern forest it is now become the biggest industrial project in the world the extraction of oil sands in canada. trees have been replaced with giant chimneys. oversized machines and scraped this browned land overflowing with beecham and an extremely polluting oil derivative. it's the last giant rush for black gold on a global scale. and the oil companies have come together here in the state of. the sandman's eldorado. us and is a very interesting story because it has been there for ages that resource is so large today it represents the amount that can be recovered both economically as well as technically so with the right technology one hundred seventy three one hundred sixty nine just counting the oil sands a billion barrels so that hundred sixty nine billion barrels makes it the third
largest resource of oil anywhere in the world third only after saudi arabia and venezuela that's just over one hundred years worth of reserve and so therefore it is a very large very attractive and now very globally recognized source of oil for the world into the future. oil doesn't mean the end of oil is essentially referring to the fact that the world's cheapest and best petroleum deposits have been mined out and now we're on to unconventional resources so now we are mining stuff that costs more we are mining stuff that has a higher environmental footprint we have to use more energy to get this energy and that's what peak oil is really all about it's simply saying look we've run out of the cheap stuff now we're hitting the dirty stuff. the cost of doing so is going to cannibalize. global economy at the same time. underwater the world someone
secure. north of the state's capital the site of the biggest oil sand mines two million barrels are extracted every day by twenty thirty that will increase to five million barrels a day. a blessing for petroleum engineers faced with depleting traditional reserves . but ecologist called the project an aberration not least because one barrel of oil has to be used just to produce three or four. that's ten times less efficient than saudi crude the gas granting these factories could provide power to three thousand households every day bitterman is an unconventional source of energy like shale gas the latest technologies are required to to extract dirty oil. to the heads of the scariest that year if you're interested see how we did you mr stan to
go to the first section and. so what i'm going to do now is how extraction so this is after mining trucks and shovels have done all their work all of the deposits gone through the crusher to bring it down to that size then they have hot water and start mixing because they need to add air to make sure that all of that which starts to float away that's when to do right now the heat is important because bitching that actually is very thick and heavy as i mentioned this is fiction in that room temperature right so what they have to do though is they have to dilute it this is done with what's called not so so once the bishop has been diluted it's very thin very runny it's kind of like this and that's a little bit human will then go through a series of centrifuges and suddenly plates let's just say you know they have their water. break to get one barrel a bitch mundane. about eight to ten barrels of water in this extraction method so
collectively the leftover clay and sand and water and a little bit of fiction and all this together is called tailings so the tailings finds this is essentially what a tailings on looks like. and the plant is supposed to include reclamation and so reclamation is the rebuilding of any of the environment they've disturbed or destroyed in their process so that doesn't just mean refilling in a mine it doesn't just mean cleaning up a tanning spot this isn't an experiment and trying to make industry more accountable the only area that's been reclaimed to that level of government certification used to belong to syncrude is about one square kilometer and it was certified in two thousand and eight but that's after they started replacing it in the early one nine hundred eighty s. . for twenty five years one square kilometer has been restored hundreds more still await. arab lands covered with slabs of bittermann.
but the oil companies guaranteed that the forest will grow back to its natural state one day. given timony doubts such a miracle is possible. he's been studying ecosystems in the north of berta for three decades. when the industry says that it's reclaiming the land what they're actually saying is that fear fear fear revenge. but what they're not telling you is that they're not reestablishing the native plants they may have some trees growing there but if you were to look at that far as you would find that it's. a lot of the plants and animals that should be there we're losing the natural biodiversity and what we're getting in return is in parity those systems that have. higher number of exotic species that don't
belong there and a few are species that are native to the community are present. here. but nothing can stop the expansion of the industry. nasa has been aiming its satellites at fort mcmurray for twenty years the increase in the number of mines artificial lakes and tailing pones is clearly visible. the spread of bitterman has made almost one billion cubic meters of water highly toxic. it stays there for fifty to one hundred years before it can be treated. jennifer grant is worried about this environmental time bomb. she's an oil sands expert at the pen beam institute an organization that advises canada's government on how to adapt as the oil runs out. the rules of the game have changed over the past fifteen years. and the industry has become all mighty. not
a single company in the last year was actually able to meet directive seventy four those at the tellings rules that are designed to help reduce the proportion of future tailings waste to any of the companies actually challenge that analysis or what was the government's response pretty quiet so there was a lot of interest in the story from the media but i didn't actually see any responses from companies i mean i think there's this is a case of being guilty on meeting the regulations and i think they're trying to. keep that story as under wraps possible right now. there are huge growing problem we have not resolved challenges for tailings and there's a number of challenges there's risks of waterfowl in wildlife encounters which has happened before we had six hundred ducks just die on one incident alone in two thousand and eight there's risks of secret so we know that tailings lakes see around eleven million liters of waste per day and of course one of the biggest challenges is how we how we're actually going to. claim and deal with this at the
end of my life so can we actually reclaim this magnitude of toxic waste when i started it working at the pet institute nearly seven years ago at the area of tailings ponds was about fifty square kilometers that area has now grown to one hundred seventy six. some of the tailings ponds like this one at suncor run parallel to the athabaskan river. pollution from the petrochemical industry weakens the speaker system in which the northern peoples live. where the river ends deep in the northern forest the land of the first nations the native americans there are no roads there you have to fly over the mines and discover what this land looked like before sands extraction began. last stop for chip away and in the middle of nowhere.
one thousand two hundred souls live here on the banks of the athabaskan lake formerly a significant site for fishing. today these indian tribes can see the oil industry swooping down on them between fatalism and resistance. huge. huge ship is yours is ten kilometers where. and this whole area is slated to be mined. which is hundreds of square i think it's four thousand square kilometers less than ten percent is being mined but our government wants to mine the whole thing in fifty or seventy years the indian reserves its biggest spots are the places that have the best chance of preservation but look at them they're surrounded by oil sands so.
nothing has a chance here anymore but really my wife's family is afraid will become environmental refugees that will have to leave this part of the world just to find a healthy place to live. and i seen no sign of hope or to taking any responsible attitude towards the potential damage that could. that's for chips fight is because we're down down river from all of this that river flows right to us that's her drinking water. that's our wildlife that's everything that's our fishery. larsen the old native canadian is taking us to his land hunting and fishing here since he was a child he's one of four chipper wayne's living memories he's seen as people and
nature itself change. my. mind will be here to come and go here maybe one hundred miles from here they've got plans now. and that link is going down every year but it's not hank she don't level up the rocks do. i tell her i know will be a question before here's where you seem to live only. all because the environment the plants would it take so much water and the big dams they have. we got no hint i would stop it. either get good but many are worth their weight in a bread dish to feed your family now they save big money big money. there you might have a good day for a while let the riches you we've got a billion dollars a day a lot of bad my app you know i still buy the government out below million dollar
stake right well no i understand quite a few are given up. and made her hundred dollar did. it wouldn't help there. but the native canadians patience is slowly wearing thin and for chip away and is living on welfare. right from the sea. first street to you and i think that you're. on a reporter's. instrument. to be in the know. on. what's hidden
such as the scandal of a commercial fishing the main livelihood of the people of four chip away and it's been declining for years fishermen condemned the impact of oil sands on the fish i never see any fish years back and we. grieve for many years in the rivers and. last twenty years i would share a little more. catch and deploy. the normal fish like me to be born to do had you because. some kind of chemical god and to me. raymond regularly sends his catch to researchers who are putting together a scientific report be objective to launch a large scale toxicology study in the area which the authorities have consistently
refused to conduct the fishermen in for have been seeing more of these malformations over the years and not only more fish is showing these deformities but also different kinds of deformities that they haven't seen as much in the past . he can see here in this in this bourbon or ling cod see here some sort of lesion below one of its fins increased temperatures of water and can lead to malformations we know that stress is related to spawning and lead to malformation but we also know that ph is and high levels of selenium and other contaminants in the water can lead to to all sorts of abnormalities so you know something like this where there's missing vertebrae is quite commonly the result of water pollution i mean once we have contaminant plumes leading away from
telling spawns it's too late they can't be remediated so now we have a situation where mildred lake settling basin and other major tailings ponds have contaminant plumes that are in contact with ground water and heading towards the at the best river we can't do anything about that what effect that will have on on the downstream over the centuries to come nobody knows but it's a sort of thing that needs to be studied. the first nations feel betrayed by the government. destruction of oil sands calls into question treaties signed almost a century ago. at the time being state of canada had finalized treaties with each tribe. an old arrangement that's almost disappeared even if the text is still in graves in the country's constitution. one of them. i have my. fos place the trees one to eleven thank you will we're is the lawyer for his people
it's a family affair his grandfather signed a treaty that sanctified the native tribes rights in alberta with his own hand there is many people that took a canoe along the athabaskan river and as they're going along they seen oil seeping out from the side of the hills and they asked the first nations people the digits people what. they said oh that's oil and they said we have to make a treaty with these indians to access that. resource rich area treat allowed the first nations people to hunt trap fish. for their subsistence that is the basis for the relationship between canada and the first nations and what it's done is the promise of for ever as long as the grass grows as lawns and sun shines as long as the river flows all of those
don't mean much because the rivers are flowing but they're full of pollutants and so is the air you know. it's not the same as it was thirty years ago it's polluted it's dangerous. it has or it contains carcinogenic samosa the air in the water. we hear of cancer cases everywhere from this pollution beatriz it in tells us about the loss of a loved one dozens of them and all come to the same conclusion. nothing has changed here except for the oil development. cecilia lost her son a young boy taken away in only a few weeks by a cancer a very rare type of cancer. i was in the hospital and.
the doctor said. that it was cancer. so they said it out across cancer connect. and won't. that's where it all begin this nightmare one of my son's friends that are we as parents. and. there is a few other diagnosed here around his age have cancer it's not normal. it's just water and this pollution like what they're burning out there at these sites is not safe for even the work
people that work there. it's just i'm real like oh today money rules you know the people that are killing these people. they should be traveling every other murder they're everybody's. great. a few years ago the law of silence was broken we went to fort mckay another native canadian reserve to meet dr john o'connor the man who sparked this scandal. are you. so what's going on. if you had to pay for. this irishman was the only doctor it for chip away and for
forty years. and it's not appear trace of her own a rural district doctor he was alarmed by the increase of cancer in such a small community. it's. discovered a margin of pathology counselors and old immune diseases that. really surprised me cancer board came up to the community got the information he needed went back to edmonton and they took a year and two thousand and nine they announced there's actually a thirty percent higher rate of cancer and for chip and among them rare cancers is it environmental is a bad luck is it life's of is it genetics we know the people for chip eighty percent of the community is traditional they subsist off the land on fish gather and trap. genetic cancers you can see the mite off you know and there's no there's no real suggestion that there's a genetic issue bad low could happen anywhere. the environmental changes that have
been seen are increasing independent science has proven that we've never had and by the way a public health official said one word or other one word of concern that the tar sands may be causing an impact and it is bizarre even based on the precautionary principle you know which is a sort of a fundamental of public health if there's a risk here remove the risk of you move the people people are hardly concerned about these native canadians and cancer in fort mcmurray the region's resources keep attracting gold diggers black gold that is. this city has become one of the most prosperous in the country the most expensive two entire districts are hastily built to welcome poil workers and their families and you house a fabulous salary people from around the world come here to make a fortune canadian petro dollars can withstand all crises when the recession hit
like you never really get married ever really felt or say right it was a little now like everywhere else a lot of places they felt they hit really hard but here everything just kind of kept on going as it was. right everything just kept going up. realistically like it's not going to stop a lot of people have a negative attitude if you have a positive attitude and there's lots to do and you can keep yourself entertained and there's a really good opportunity for oil sands should earn canada two trillion dollars in twenty years so criticisms are warnings are often brushed aside the government drums its official line in terms of oil exploration there is much worse elsewhere we are so transparent people sometimes try to use that transparency against us but i would encourage them to go to other countries where it isn't so transparent for example iran's or many of the other middle eastern countries they're having increasing difficulties mainly because of the result of political instability it
would be great if there was another. a magic source of energy that had no consequences on the environment there is no such thing so as long as we're going to be using oil as part of the energy mix in the world the all sands in alberta are an important piece of that and we're determined to work hard to ensure that our environmental standards are amongst the very best in the world. the image of a responsible and ecological canada has been dented. on december twelfth two thousand and eleven the country shut the door on the kyoto protocol reducing greenhouse gases is impossible with the oil sands boom. andrew nikifor of has done the math the country ran the risk of getting a fourteen billion dollar fine for exceeding its quotas many members of the canadian government do not believe climate change is a threat the prime minister of canada is a climate change skeptic so the canadian government is in a mad rush to exploit this resource as quickly as possible before the rest of the
world shames us into controlling production and says look. do million barrels that's enough we don't the world will not need five million barrels of this stuff is too dirty you know this resource is telling you now you must get off oil this is the end game when you have to dig up the forests the size of rhode island or delaware when it takes two tons of sand to make one barrel of oil you know you're at the bottom of the ninth inning and that's where we're at. a fork in the road between fossil energy and renewable energy also a fork in the history of canada's north. in fort mcmurray oil workers take their children to see the bison. the animals are housed in a former mine of the same crude oil company. proof that the environment is in good health. in four chip away and in other native canadian reserves the elderly are
withdrawing even further into their communities they watch the factories advance on this land that they consider sacred. objects. i cry. if you had to wear trouble. will be not. going to be. my people in a minority on the mount and. i cannot be counted might or might be from a. trip where people decree what we're down here i pulled a man. that were mitchell that many think should go in. with you round to begin with if where you'll maybe go. no no memorable a bad lad back and that they dish droid in the door never.
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